As part of president Biden’s ‘Investing in America’ agenda, the US Department of Energy has announced up to $475 million in funding for five projects in Arizona, Kentucky, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia to accelerate clean energy deployment on current and former mining land. This funding – made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – will support a variety of diverse, locally-driven clean energy projects that can be replicated in current and former mining communities across the country.

The projects are expected to expand local and regional workforce partnerships and generate local tax revenues, supporting essential public services and spurring new economic opportunities in communities that have ben involved in the nation’s power industry for generations. The announcement is intended to help strengthen the USA’s energy security and ensure the nation’s mining communities continue to play a part in its energy economy.

US secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm commented: “Thanks to the president’s ‘Investing in America’ agenda, DOE is helping deploy clean energy solutions on current and former mine land across the country – supporting jobs and economic development in the areas hit hardest by our evolving energy landscape.” Thus the funding is in line with president Biden’s Justice40 Initiative

The selected projects cover a range of clean energy technologies, from solar, microgrids, and pumped storage hydropower to geothermal and battery energy storage systems. Three projects are on former Appalachian coal mines, which supports economic revitalisation and workforce development on land that is no longer viable for industrial purposes. In the West, two projects seek to displace fossil-fuel use by ramping up net-zero mining operations and providing the critical materials needed for a robust, domestic, clean energy supply chain.

Selected projects

The five projects selected for award negotiation include: 

  • Copper Recovery to Support America’s Domestic Energy Supply Chain (Graham and Greenlee Counties, Arizona), which project seeks to deploy direct-use, geothermal, clean heat combined with a battery energy storage system at two active copper mines in Southeast Arizona;
  • Lewis Ridge Project (coal-to-pumped storage hydropower, Bell County, Kentucky) which proposes converting former coal mine land to a closed-loop, pumped-storage hydroelectric facility with the potential to dispatch up to eight hours of power when needed, including during extreme weather events; Decarbonising Gold Mines (Elko, Humboldt and Eureka Counties, Nevada) which aims to develop a solar photovoltaic facility and accompanying battery energy storage system across three active gold mines in Nevada;
  • Mineral Basin: coal-to-solar (Clearfield County, Pennsylvania) which plans to repurpose nearly 2700 acres of former coal mining land to support the largest solar project in Pennsylvania, at 402 MW;
  • A Model for Transition: coal-to-solar (Nicholas County, West Virginia) which plans to repurpose two former coal mines with a utility-scale, 250 MW solar PV system;
  • The New River Community and Technical College, Mana Group, and National Association of Counties Research Foundation plan to create a national Coal Transition Workforce Centre to support and revitalise the local workforce for other opportunities in the nation’s growing clean energy economy. This project anticipates creating approximately 400 construction jobs and four operations jobs and aims to engage state labour groups and an education programme, curating a curriculum and identifying pathways to well paid, clean energy jobs.

Selection for award negotiations is not a commitment by DOE to issue an award or provide funding. Before funding is issued, DOE and the selectees will undergo a negotiation process, and DOE may cancel negotiations and rescind the selection for any reason during that time.